Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Book Review

Confessions of an Organized Housewife by Deniece Schofield

This was a very helpful book. Even though there were some things that wouldn't work for me (pushing a housekeeping utility cart with cleaning gear around, making a map of things in a deep freezer, binders with codes to organize puzzles and fabric, or writing a timed schedule for Thanksgiving dinner), there were many, many helpful tips. I wrote down my favorites and I hope it's helpful for you. I definitely recommend this book for anyone who's working on organization, housekeeping, and discipline! Thanks for recommending it to me, Veronica!

My favorite tips:
*Think things through before acting. Make a plan of attack before starting your chores.
*Store things where they are used. Items should have a clearly-defined space in the house. Can anyone in the family find a safety pin? A regular pen? A hairbrush? Ballet shoes (can you guess why we were late to ballet yesterday)?
*Find a planner/calendar/filing system that works for you. Make a running list of things to buy. Make meal plans! (getting better with this)
*Use drawer dividers and tame the wild junk drawer!
We have drawer issues. Note only 2 drawers in the whole kitchen!

And one of them must be a junk drawer! That will be my true test of organization. Can it ever be tamed?

*Be motion-minded. Keep both hands busy. Do something productive while you're on the phone.
*Use accrued benefits. Double a recipe or find a creative use for leftovers. Do all the mending at once. Straighten the house at night so things will be clean in the morning.
*When you see something out of place, quickly put it away. (this is an important one for me!)
*Remember that no house is ALWAYS clean. Even those homes you visit that appear immaculate are messy sometimes.
*Things I should do daily: general pickup, wipe/sweep floors and counters, laundry, dishes, vacuum, bathrooms.
*Be sure your home isn't just "surface"-cleaned. Here's a good quote from the book:
"Imagine for a minute that you live in a home that is clutter-free. Everything in the home has a well-defined, well-confined space. Cleaning an already orderly home is twice as fast and half as fatiguing. The kids come home from school, drop their coats and boots in the corner, throw their papers and books on the counter, grab a snack, spill the milk, drop crumbs on the floor and so on. Sure, the surface is getting messed up, but underneath it all there is still peace and order. Cupboards, closets, and drawers are still neat and tidy. Things can still be found and put away quickly. In a home such as this, bringing the surface under control is not really a big deal."
Now that's an ideal!

Her advice on: Where to Start?
*General pickup, beds made
*Laundry current

I try to pick up every day, but it's hard if I go to bed early. I work best and most efficiently late a night. The girls did do a lot of cleaning after this picture was taken (they were playing "camping" under the altar!), since we'll have a meeting here in the morning. But that laundry + another load is still waiting on the couch to be put away!

*Well-balanced meals served regularly
Hmmm...does oatmeal and cinnamon toast count? What if they had an apple slice with them? How about pizza and an apple slice? Alfredo pasta with bread? Can you see I have a hard time with the veggies???

*Kitchen is in good order (dishes done?)
I'll show the "after" picture here

*Bathrooms cleaned and straightened regularly

*Entry areas clean and tidy

I think I'm passing, but barely. The guests coming tomorrow thing put me just over the cutoff. Still have a ways to go, but we're getting there!

"Put into action a program that makes getting organized an exciting and attractive way of life."

To put it into action...


Jill said...

Thanks for the review and the practical applications to your life with three little ones. I might have to look into the book. I need a junk drawer. It's Aslynn's favorite thing! She loves digging through and seeing what treasures she can find. :)

Em said...

So..... I have a question for ya... why is it so important for you and Lillian to go to bed early? I know getting up early is supposed to be virtuous and all - but aren't some people just night owls and some early birds? For me, I feel panicked if I am up after 11pm. I hate being up late and my issues are with leaving the mess until the morning. I love getting up early in the morning (when I don't have a child who is at the age when they can sense me leaving the bed, LOL;) and cleaning. I really don't think I am THAT much more virtuous than you, LOL;)
So why do people who naturally get energetic at night have to try to make themselves like people who naturally get energetic in the morning? Why can't you stay up and clean and sleep in in the morning? I just don't get it. Help me out!
On another note, your house looks great! Good luck with the kitchen. In our old house I had 3 drawers and I thought I had it bad! I think some kitchens are designed by people who don't actually cook.

Blair said...

Great question, Emily. I think for our family to move most smoothly, I need to be up in the mornings with Steven (5:30am) and then I'll be up BEFORE the kids. It is pretty pathetic when a child has to wake the mom up and beg for breakfast. If I could operate on 4 hours of sleep it would be fine! But going to bed at 1:30 and getting up at 5:30, or even 7:30 (when the kids usually get up) isn't enough sleep. Also, I think it's ideal for Steven and I to be sleeping at the same time; we can have time to talk before bed and when we get up; just more unifying overall.

Em said...

Well, that makes sense! I guess I never realized how lucky I am that I like to get up early but not as early as Mike has to get up, that I have a really annoying personality that is hyper annoying after any amount of coffee (=Mike does not WANT me to get up with him - he loves his alone time in the morning), and furthermore that my kids tend to be late risers. I can see how not having my ideal circumstances can lead to having to restructure things;)
Perhaps you should try being annoying?
If your husband is like mine it just might give you an hour or two extra in bed:)
(FYI: annoying = talking about nothing and everything all at the same time, super super fast. Follow the man around the house, and no, the bathroom is not off limits. Works for me:)

Lillian said...

How did I get roped into this discussion!?! LOL!

I think the virtue of waking up early is that you start your day on purpose with a firm intention.

Also, the rest of the world really does function early. And I'm starting to see that my kids are NOT going to be ready for life if they don't know how to get up early.

Also, so much time is lost if you don't use your mornings well, especially with homeschooling. Because I can't push dinner and lunch back. Lunch is always at noon around here and we HAVE to eat dinner at 5pm so that we can (1) eat as a family AND (2) to give Isabelle a chance to eat so she has time for swimming practice every evening.

As the kids get older and they start doing outside activities, a schedule is more important.

And I TOTALLY know what Blair is talking about .... for breakfast my little ones know how to throw a bagle into the toaster and spread the creamcheese.

Actually, to give me a few minutes to get myself ready (and make my bed), Isabelle changes Catherine's diaper and Anna makes her chocolate milk. ;-)

But I've been working on getting up in the morning before the kids and making BIG breakfasts. Right now I feel better in the mornings and awful at night. So I've been going to bed early and rising early ... YEAH! And my kids are loving the BIG breakfasts (eggs, potatoes, bacon, refried beans w/ tortillas). We ALL (Craig included) sit around and talk and look out the window to watch the birds. Do you know birds are early risers? I think most of the world is. My confessor says its sloth to keep sleeping in and not start the day on purpose. He encourages me to wake up the earliest I can possibly stand.

For me that is NOT 5:30am. I can function with 7am barely.

I've REALLY rationalized away on how some people are just not morning people. But whether that is true or not, it hurts my kids and family to start the day late. And this is that I haven't even said anything about homeschooling!! LOL! Homeschooling runs smoother if all kids are studying by 8am.

Sorry so long. Next time don't mention me by name!! ;-) LOL!

Lillian said...

FYI, we have dear friend visiting and staying with us this weekend. They have 11 kids and are early risers. Can tell you that I'm getting a little nervous!! SHe is such a wonderful wife who gets up with her dh EVERY morning and makes his breakfast!! ANd he gets up early!!

I asked Craig if I should do the same. WHen he travels he gets up at 4am to catch his 6am flight. He's alot like Mike and begged that I stay in bed.! LOL! Its not that I'm supper chattery like Emily! No, I'm just a BIG, ol' grump!

But he does like it when I get up at 7am and have the coffee and breakfast ready. I always use to dream about living in the old days with Pa and Ma Ingalls. I'm starting to see I wouldn't meet their standards! LOL! So I'll just keep trying to function in this century!

Em said...

Lillian, you got roped in because I've been TERRIBLE about commenting on blogs. I meant to ask you this way back when you were posting on it but never got around to it. And of course, as you know, I'm all about being efficient;)
Blair, you are a super amazing night owl! You really stay up until 2 am?! The few times I have been up that late I've gotten myself so frantic trying to go to sleep that I end up up all night. I literally feel panicked after 11. I absolutely cannot imagine ENJOYING being up that late. One of my favorite things to do is to go to bed super early so I can get up and drink coffee all alone in the stillness of my dark house.... without a single interruption. When I don't get this time (fairly often) I crack. Good luck working on the schedule. I am soooooo glad I don't have anyone telling me to stay up later:0
I can see how a late schedule would make things difficult as far as jiving with homeschooling, scheduling, extracurricular activities, and spouses. I never really thought about that before, I guess because it has never really been an issue. Poor you guys! Hope your transition goes smoothly!

Stephanie said...

That photo of MC looks like she could be a model! It's so artistic! You have such beautiful children.

Shelly said...

You don't know me but i come "lurk and read" from time to time - this is concerning your "new cathedral post". You must live in the big "H"?! My brother just moved there in July and just got married the beginning of March [*not* in the Catholic Church, unfortunately] and this was my first time to "H"...but that Sunday we went to Mass at the "other" cathedral and Fr. [beard/ his name Fr. Tim?] was saying how the new cathedral was almost finished. Wow! from your pictures it sure is beautiful! Feels like i went there myself. Thanks for sharing :o)

Rich said...

What a clean house! I wouldn't get too hard on yourself about having a junk drawer. Everyone has that. In fact, I would venture to say that if a family didn't have a junk drawer, the junk would be out all over the place.

As far as cleaning, do any of you ever have a cleaning frenzy that hits you at the most inconvenient times? It's like you can't stop cleaning until it's done!

B-Mama said...

Blair, thanks so much for the insight! I would have to say, I am loving getting things organized at night so that I wake in the mornings to cleanliness! I second that suggestion!!! The hard part is the discipline it takes to really get it done before bed... After a couple of weeks of morning organization, though, I'm hooked (almost like a cleanly addiction!) Not too shabby!

And yes, Rich, I tend to get cleaning attacks around midnight, which only hampers my efforts toward bed! Most nights we try to be in bed by 11:30, but that also takes tremendous discipline!

Blessings, Blair, on this path.

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